City Guides

Travel Europe Packing List for Women — Packing Guide for Backpacking Europe

Everything you need to pack for traveling through Europe.


Updated: August 18, 2017. Originally Posted: March 2013.

We ladies often have a tough time packing light. We want to look fashionable, but we don’t have a lot of space to pack everything. This travel packing list will help you pack only the clothes and accessories that you need — while still looking fashionable. It can be tough, but it isn’t impossible if you follow this packing guide. We don’t only focus on fashion… we also have recommended travel accessories, toiletries, electronics, and other items that will help you get the most out of your vacation! This guide is geared toward travel in Europe, but the principles are universal for all international travel. 

HEY DUDES! Check out our new Men’s Packing List for Backpacking Europe — it is a similar guide to this one, but the suggestions are geared toward guys.

Women’s Travel Packing List for Europe Outline

  1. Advice About Fashion and Packing Light
  2. Clothing
  3. Travel Accessories
  4. Toiletries
  5. Electronics for Travel
  6. First Aid Items
  7. What Not to Bring

Advice About Fashion and Packing Light

Packing light isn’t easy for many of my fellow female travelers (I still struggle, myself), but the benefits to traveling light are immense. First, it allows you to travel more freely and easily. You might not realize it now, but you’re going to encounter crowded public transportation (usually with lots of stairs), bustling cobblestone streets, small trains/planes, narrow hallways and staircases, and a wide range of other stressful situations that make traveling with a lot of stuff extremely difficult.

I’ve encountered girls out there that had so much stuff that they needed someone to help them stand up when they put on their backpack. At this point, your bag is just an anchor. To avoid this, I suggest limiting yourself to around 20lbs of gear (including your bag).

Tips for Choosing Clothing for Travel

  • Mix & Match Your Colors and Styles — The key to being fashionable and packing light is choosing clothes that are versatile. Everything you bring should look good when paired with any other article of clothing you have. You should be able to blindly pull out any top and bottom from your bag and pair them together. If you can’t do this, you should reconsider what you’ve chosen.
  • Choose Low Maintenance Clothing — Make sure the stuff you bring doesn’t have special washing instructions — like dry-clean only.
  • Forget the ‘Single Use’ Items — That super cute dress that you’ll probably only wear one night should be left behind. Instead, bring something that can be dressed up or dressed down since it’s more versatile. A good guideline is that if you aren’t going to wear it at least three times, then you shouldn’t bring it.
  • Fashion Accessories — A lightweight scarf is an easy way to change up your wardrobe. Plus, European women love scarves, so it’s a great way to look like a local.
  • Bring a Smaller Bag/Backpack — You can only bring as much as your bag can hold, so force yourself to bring less by buying a smaller backpack.
  • Buy Clothes in Europe — The shopping in Europe is amazing; you can always buy more clothes when you travel.

For more great European fashion tips, visit our guide to dressing like a European.

Women’s Travel Packing List for Clothing 

Remember, versatility is key when choosing what to wear. I suggest sticking to earth tone colors because they hide dirt/stains better, but this is just personal preference. Look for fabrics that are wrinkle-resistant because it is hard to keep your clothes wrinkle-free when traveling. Ideally, these fabrics should also be quick-drying if you need to wash your clothes in the hostel (but it is easy enough to find a laundromat in any major city).

Women’s Tops


Four or Five Shirts — I recommend a mixture of both short- and long-sleeve tops. Make sure to check the average weather for when you’re traveling since it will dictate which type of top to bring. Long-sleeve shirts are more versatile since the sleeves can be rolled up if it gets warm.

Light Sweater/Cardigan – Even in the summer, it is nice to have a sweater or cardigan if it gets cold. You might want something a little warmer if you’re going to colder climates. These are also good for layering with other tops. Obviously, you probably don’t need one if you’re traveling to really hot climates.

One or Two Dresses — Look for a lightweight dress that can be worn casually during the day, but can also be dressed up if you go out at night.

T-shirts and Tank Tops — Pack a few t-shirts or tank tops for hot days, to use as undershirts, and for wearing in the hostel. I like the ExOfficio Lacy Shelf Bra Cami to use as an undershirt or to sleep in. It is super lightweight and breathable, and it will air-dry overnight, so it’s easy to wash in the sink.

Women’s Bottoms


Dark Skinny Jeans or Trousers — Jeans are universal and everyone in Europe wears them. Dark jeans are perfect because they look great during the day and they can be easily dressed up for going out at night. Skinny jeans are in fashion and are probably the safest bet. Additionally, a pair of lightweight trousers is also a nice option since they still look classy and they’re a bit more comfortable in the summer.

Skirts — I like to bring two or three skirts (a mix of short and long) because they’re not only cute, comfortable, and cool, but they’re lightweight so they’re easy to pack.

Shorts — Europeans do wear shorts but I wouldn’t wear them any place fancy. I prefer wearing skirts when it’s warm, but shorts are still a perfectly fine option for exploring the city or having a picnic in the park. If you do wear shorts, I recommend bringing a fashionable and well-fitting pair (definitely nothing sporty). Don’t forget to bring a pair of comfortable casual shorts for sleeping or wearing around the hostel.

Underwear and Socks


Bras — It is important to bring three or four comfortable bras. I just bring the bras that I already own, but a lot of travelers recommend bringing at least one quick-drying sports bra.

Underwear — I always tend to overpack underwear because I’m lazy and don’t like to do laundry. Typically I bring 6-10 pairs. I really like the ExOfficio Underwear. They aren’t sexy, but they are amazing for traveling because they’re super breathable and they dry very quickly. I just wash these in the sink and then they’re dry the next day. They also have anti-odor properties so you can get away with wearing a pair for more than one day. ExOfficio offers multiple styles. They are a bit expensive, but they are a favorite among experienced travelers. For a more in-depth article about travel underwear, check out our favorite travel underwear!

Thermal Underwear  — These are optional, and you’ll only need them in the winter. Amazon has a wide range of thermal underwear for women that will all work well. The main thing you want to avoid is cotton, so you’ll want to buy something that is made out of a synthetic material or Merino wool.

Leggings and Pantyhose — Sheer pantyhose are super fashionable in Europe. They are a great way to add a little sex appeal to an outfit. Leggings are also fashionable and don’t take up any space in your backpack.

Socks — Having high-quality socks is super important. Trust me on this. Nice socks can get a little pricey, but I highly recommend buying a few pairs (and good socks will last a long time so you can wear them after your trip is over). The best socks are made of fine wool — yes, you can wear wool socks in the summer. Lightweight wool will actually keep your feel cool and sweat-free. There are also synthetic blends that perform well.

When buying socks, look for the following criteria:

  • Moisture-Wicking – Your feet will sweat a lot (especially since you’ll be doing a lot of walking), so you want a sock that draws moisture away from your feet. Keeping your feet dry helps eliminate odor and stops the formation of painful blisters.
  • Quick-Drying – It is pretty easy to wash your socks in the sink, so you want a pair that will dry overnight (about 6 hours).
  • Odor-Eliminating – Some synthetic socks have special anti-bacterial features that help eliminate odor. Lightweight wool socks will also do this naturally (lightweight wool can also work well in the summer).
  • Avoid Cotton! – Cotton socks soak up moisture and won’t dry well once wet. They will also start to smell very quickly.

A quality pair of socks can be worn 2-3 times before they start to stink (although you’ll want to rotate the days you wear each pair).

Recommended Sock Brands:

  • SmartWool Socks – I love my SmartWool socks. I wear them all the time. They have a wide range of socks available (from lightweight to heavyweight). SmartWool also makes Hide and Seek Socks and Secret Sleuth Socks which are great “no show” socks.
  • Darn Tough Socks – Made in Vermont, this brand of really nice socks will last for years. They get great reviews.
  • Wigwam Socks – Another quality brand that is worth checking out.
  • Thorlo – Thorlo makes quality socks that aren’t too expensive.

For a more in-depth article about the wonderful world of socks, check out our favorite socks for travel

Shoes for Travel


Ohh shoes… why must you be so difficult? I struggle with knowing what type of shoes to bring and I know this is very common amongst all travelers. If you think you can, I say to only bring one pair of shoes. They should be something comfortable since you’re going to be doing a ton of walking. If you can’t comfortably walk in your shoes for over three hours, you shouldn’t bring them. But I think the maximum pairs of shoes you should pack is two.

For your main pair, I suggest comfortable flats that can be either dressed up or dressed down. Additionally, I also think a pair of fashionable (and comfortable) sneakers is fine — but leave the running shoes at home (unless you’re not worried about being fashionable).

If you’re less concerned about fashion, then waterproof hiking shoes are a good option. These are nice because they’re comfortable and you don’t have to worry about wet feet. They probably aren’t necessary during the summer when rain is infrequent, but you might consider them for travel during the spring/fall/winter since rain is common during these seasons.

A cute pair of comfortable sandals is also a good option if you travel in the summer. Sandals are also nice because they are generally lightweight and easy to pack. Gladiator sandals are popular among Europeans.

Bring a cheap pair of rubber sandals for hostel showers (who knows what goes on in there…). They are also nice if you visit the beach.

But what about that sexy pair of high heels? Honestly, I’d leave them at home. You really don’t need them, but if you do bring them, make sure they are comfortable enough to walk in. A wedge shoe will make it easier to walk on cobblestone, but they are heavy. I brought a pair on my first trip and I think I only wore them one night.

For a more in-depth guide to finding the best shoes, check out our guide to cute and comfortable travel shoes.

Jackets and Rain Gear


If you’re traveling during the summer, you probably don’t need a jacket or rain gear (although, summer nights can still get a bit chilly the farther north you go). Additionally, if you plan on traveling during the spring, fall, and/or winter, you’ll probably have a few rainy days (it will still rain during the summer but not as much as the other three seasons). Therefore, having a normal jacket or a rainproof jacket can be nice. I’ve listed a few options below for ideas of what type might meet your travel needs.

Fleece Jacket – Fleece is a good material because it provides a lot of warmth but it isn’t too bulky. If you’re going to buy one, I suggest getting a black jacket because it is the most versatile. Check out these fleece jackets.

Rain Jacket – A rain jacket is an item that takes up a lot of space and is rarely used, so unless you’re going to visit notoriously rainy destinations, I would classify this as optional. You probably don’t need one if you’re only visiting cities (just bring an umbrella and duck into a shop/café if it really starts to rain). Additionally, most 100% waterproof rain jackets are not very breathable, so you end up feeling damp and sweaty. Check out these rain jackets. 

Softshell Jacket – A softshell jacket is basically a nice compromise between a fleece and a rain jacket. A softshell isn’t completely waterproof, but it will repel 98% of the rain you come across. Unlike a true “rain jacket”, a softshell is breathable, so it will let moisture (i.e., sweat) escape. This is much more comfortable than a balmy rain jacket. A softshell jacket isn’t quite as warm as a fleece, but it will still provide a lot of warmth. Check out these softshell jackets.

I recommend REI for the best selection of jackets.

Other Accessories

Sunglasses — Try to find something fashionable, but I wouldn’t bring an expensive pair because glasses are easy to break/lose — especially when traveling. During my last trip, I used cheap $15 “designer-inspired” glasses you find at those kiosks at the mall. If you do bring sunglasses, make sure you bring a hard case for them so you can just throw your glasses in your bag.

Scarf — A scarf is a staple of any European wardrobe. These make great souvenirs, so you can always buy one or two during your travels.

Sarong — A sarong is a versatile accessory that can be used as a wrap, shawl, scarf, light blanket, and a picnic blanket.

Purse or Day Bag Backpack — You’ll want a bag or purse that isn’t too big, but it should be large enough to carry the essentials (camera, notebook, light sweater, etc). If you bring a purse, it should have a zipper, and the backpack should ideally have lockable zippers.

Travel Accessories


Travel Backpack

Choosing a backpack is too complicated to outline here. We have a guide for how to choose the perfect backpack for traveling Europe and our recommended travel backpacks for Europe.

Daypack or Day Bag

You can’t carry around your main travel backpack all day, so you need a smaller daypack. You’ll use the daypack to carry around the basics that you’ll need throughout the day — camera, maps, guide books, notepad, snacks, etc. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite daypacks for Europe that we suggest checking out.

Packing Cubes & Packing Sleevespackingcubes

The best way to keep your clothes organized and wrinkle free is by using packing cubes and packing sleeves. When you live out of a backpack, it is super helpful to have everything organized so you can easily and quickly find the things you need. I use eBags packing cubes and Eagle Creek packing sleeves. For more information about how to use packing cubes (or how to properly pack your backpack), check out our guide to properly packing your backpack.

Quick-Drying Travel Towel best travel towel for europe

quick-drying towel is a ‘must have’ travel accessory. These towels feel kind of weird, but they can absorb 2x their weight in water, and they will air dry overnight. This is the reason I choose to use these towels. In addition to being big and bulky, a normal cotton towel will take 2-3 days to dry, and the moisture in the towel will make your bag (and clothes) smell like mold and mildew if you have to pack it.

NoteTravel towels are much smaller than normal towels, so I suggest buying the large or XL size — especially if you have long hair. Or you can buy a large for your body and a medium size for your hair.

Key Chain Flashlight 

flashlight for hostels in europeThis is essential. A key chain flashlight is perfect for those nights when you return to your hostel dorm room late — don’t piss off your roommates by turning on the lights at 3am. I also feel safeer when I’m out at night if I have a flashlight, so I always have one with me.

The Streamlight 73001 Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight is a great flashlight that is bright and tiny (seriously, this thing is tiny but it puts out a ton of light). I keep it in my bag whenever I go out.

Ear Plugs & Eye Mask

People in hostels will snore. There is no doubt about it. Hearos Ear Plugs are cheap and effective. Additionally, you might want an eye mask for sleeping because people will be coming and going in the hostel room at night.

Small Notebook  

Always carry a small notebook when you’re traveling because you’ll want to jot down notes of interesting things. I use the timeless Moleskine Notebook, but there are plenty of other options. Plus, this notebook will serve as a great souvenir after your journey is over. Or see my post about making your own travel guide.

Travel Sleep Sheet

In general, hostel sheets are clean, but not every hostel has the same standards of cleanliness. If you don’t want to chance it, I suggest a cotton Sleep Sheet. Cotton can get a bit heavy and bulky, so silk is another option. Not only do Silk Sleep Sacks feel luxurious, they are also lightweight and compressible.

Flexible Water Bottle water bottle for traveling in europe

Flexible water bottles are lightweight and hardly take up any room in your pack. I prefer these to the common “Nalgene” bottles because these take up much less space.

Sink Stopper 

If you plan on ever washing your own clothes in the sink, you’ll need a travel sink stopper.

Travel Laundry Soap

Woolite Travel Laundry Soap or Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets are handy for hand washing laundry in a sink.

Flexible Travel Clothesline travel clothesline

Tie the clothesline across your bunk and hang up your wet clothes. I prefer the rubber braided clotheslines because they don’t require any clothespins—you just stick the clothes through the braids. I don’t like the kind with suction cups because they never seem to work well.

Stain Remover

Tide To Go Stain Remover Pens are handy for removing stains from clothes. I just threw the pen into my bag and I ended up using it often. Alternatively, these individually wrapped Shout Wipes also work really well.


Some hostels have padlocks for rent, but it is easier to bring your own. I prefer the type that allows you set your own combo because the code is so much easier to remember — especially after a few drinks (but they are a little more expensive).
Master Lock Set-Your-Own-Combination Padlock is a great choice.

Retractable Cable Locklock for traveling in europe

retractable cable lock is essential for locking your backpack to your bunk/luggage rack. It will deter someone from running by and grabbing your bag from your dorm or train car. I used mine all the time, and I’m glad I brought it.

Duct Tape 

You never know when you’ll need to patch something. Don’t take a whole roll—wrap the tape around a pencil so it won’t take up much space. You can also purchase travel duct tape.

Travel Alarm Clock

Don’t forget an alarm clock because it is easy to oversleep for those early morning flights and trains. Most phones have an alarm clock function, but you might want to pick up a travel alarm clock if you don’t travel with a phone. There are plenty of travel alarm clocks available; just get a cheap one.

Swiss-Army Knife knife for traveling in europe

A trusty swiss army knife is handy to have if you need to cut something or open up a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, I like to carry on all my luggage when I fly, so a knife is out of the question if you travel by plane.

Digital Luggage Scale

If you plan to only carry on your luggage, you might want to get a digital luggage scale to ensure your bag is under the airline’s weight limit — especially if you purchase things as you travel.

Photocopies Of Important Documents

Make a few copies of your passport and other important documents just in case you lose them. Keep a copy of your passport in your bag. Additionally, you should make digital copies of all your important documents and email them to yourself so you can access them if needed.

Money Belt

 moneybelt for backpacking in europe

Many European cites are filled with pickpockets, and a money belt is a good way to protect yourself. The standard money belt is worn around your waist and under your clothes. Another option (which I feel is more practical) is a neck pouch money belt. Personally, I never liked wearing a money belt, but a lot of people wear them. It is up to you to decide if you feel like you need one.

Collapsible Umbrella

 best umbrella for travel

Trying to find an umbrella in an unfamiliar city isn’t any fun. I suggest buying a travel umbrella before you leave.

Toothbrush Cover

I like the Steripod Clip-on Toothbrush Sanitizer covers because they sanitize the brush while the cover is on. I’m not sure how this scientific voodoo works, but it does. Or you can just get a normal toothbrush cover.

Plastic Travel Utensils 

Plastic travel utensils are a handy travel accessory. They are great if you want to grab a cheap lunch at a grocery store or you want a picnic in the park. If you want to be a true baller, then check out this titanium spork.

Lint Roller

Lint rollers will help keep all that lint off your dark clothes. 

Ziploc Bags

I pack a few quart- and gallon-size Ziploc bags because they are great for holding damp or dirty clothes. Ziploc also makes a large 3-gal bag that is nice for storing an extra pair of shoes (so you don’t get your clothes dirty). I also recommend putting your liquid toiletries in a plastic bag so you don’t have an accidental spill.

Electronics Packing List

Read my guide to traveling with electronics for more in-depth advice about using electronic devices while traveling.

Travel Power Strip

Power outlets are a hot commodity in most hostels. It isn’t uncommon for there to only be two outlets in a room with 10 people. A travel power strip can be a lifesaver when you need to charge/power all your devices. Plus, you’ll make a lot of friends when other people can plug into your power strip. This Monster 4-Outlet Travel Power Strip is our favorite (there is also a 6-outlet version).

Dual Voltage Travel Hairdryer and Straighteners

N. American hair dryers won’t work in Europe — even if you have a voltage adapter. If you plug a standard hair dryer into a European outlet, it will fry since European voltage is twice as high as in the US or Canada. You need a dual voltage hair dryer. I love my Babylisspro TT Tourmaline Titanium Travel Dryer because it is powerful, lightweight, and foldable. If you straighten your hair, you’ll also need a dual voltage straightening iron.

Digital Camera and Charger

Everyone needs to bring a digital camera when they travel. Read our guide to picking the best digital camera for travel. Don’t forget the extras…

  • Extra Memory Cards: Be sure you have plenty of high-capacity memory cards. One of the worst things is running out of space.
  • Extra Battery: Buy an extra battery or two from Amazon. I got two super cheap 3rd-party batteries from some random seller in China, and they were extremely helpful on my trip.


You can use these to help plan your trip, find directions, listen to music, and a ton more. I think these devices make travel much more enjoyable.

Laptop or iPad

Laptops are becoming more popular in the backpacking world. I can’t imagine traveling with a full-size laptop, but a netbookultrabook or Macbook Air would be a good option — but I would use an iPad or a Kindle Fire if I could choose. Read more about our favorite laptops for travel for more in-depth advice about traveling with a laptop.


A smartphone is a great travel accessory but make sure you know about international roaming to make sure you don’t rack up a huge bill.

Outlet Plug Adapter 

Plug adapters change the plug on your electronics to fit the outlet of the country (The U.K. and Europe are different plugs). Don’t confuse these with “voltage adapters.” Read the savvy guide for traveling with electronics to find out the difference.

Toiletries for Europe Travel

It is pretty amazing how heavy all your toiletries can become. Between the shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, and everything else, it is easy to amass 5-10lbs of stuff (and most is unneeded). Honestly, most of this stuff you can buy once you arrive. Plus, I’ve always liked going to European grocery stores to see what they have. But if you have particular needs, you’ll want to bring those things with you.

Hanging Toiletries Bag

ogioThe first thing you should get is a toiletry bag that can hang. Most hostel bathrooms are small and have no shelf space, so being able to hang up your bag is incredibly convenient. I use the Ogio Doppler bag because it is sturdy and compact, but still has a lot of room. This will save you a lot of hassle. If you don’t like the Ogio bag, there are plenty of other Hanging Toiletries Bags.

Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash

Pour the liquid into one of those small travel-sized bottles. You can always buy more if you ever need it. GoToob travel bottles get great reviews from travelers.

Toothpaste & Toothbrush

Don’t buy a travel toothbrush—they’re a waste of money and don’t really even work. I just stick with a normal toothbrush and a Ziploc bag. Be sure to get a Steripod Clip-on Toothbrush Sanitizer. Don’t forget the dental floss while you’re at it.

Shaving Stuff (Razors & Cream)

I normally bring a couple disposable razors and a travel shave cream. I buy more supplies as I go.


I’ve found that deodorant in Europe is formulated differently than in N. America. Maybe it is all in my head, but it seemed like it took my body a few weeks to get used to the new formula. You might want to bring your own if you don’t want to chance it.

Chapstick with Sunscreen

Make out sessions are no fun with sunburned lips.

Contact Lens/Solution/Glasses

Contacts can be a pain, especially in polluted cities. Eyeglasses might be a better choice.


When I lived in Paris, I noticed that women there didn’t wear nearly as much makeup as Americans do. That’s why I recommend sticking to the basics:

Bright red lipstick — Parisian women seem to never leave the house without sexy lipstick. You can also use lipstick as blush.

BB Cream — BB Cream is a great ‘all-in-one’ product. It is a moisturizer, contains sunscreen, provides light coverage as a basic foundation, and it evens out skin tone.

Mascara — Mascara should be changed every three months, so this is a great excuse to buy a new bottle.

Cream Blush — You really don’t want to have makeup brushes in your bag, so a cream blush is a great option.

Travel Febreze/Fabric Freshener 

This is good for freshening up your clothes. I like the travel-sized Febreze To Go.

Travel Size Toilet Paper

You never know when you’ll be out. This is something you really want to get.

Wet Wipes/Baby Wipes

Hopefully, you won’t need them, but they are good to have. I like the Cottonelle Fresh Flushable Wipes because they come individually wrapped so they’re super easy to pack. 

Hand Sanitizer

Hostels and public transportation aren’t the cleanest places you’ll ever visit…


Go get a few of those free perfume samples from Sephora or a department store. Don’t bring a big bottle because it is too heavy.

First-Aid Packing List

I would pack minimal first-aid supplies because you can get everything easily in Europe. Just bring the very basics.

Prescription Drugs

The prescription needs to be on the bottle/box because some countries will check your medicine when you pass through immigration. I’ve never been asked to present any medicine, but it is possible. Also, make sure you have enough medicine to cover your entire trip. I’m not really sure of the rules about buying prescription medication overseas, but I’m sure it is a hassle.

Pain Medicine

In many European countries, you can only get medicine (even basic stuff like Tylenol) from a pharmacy. This isn’t really a problem, but some pharmacies have limited hours. Might as well have a few pills on you before you arrive.


For your widdle boo-boos.

Motion Sickness Pills

If you get carsick easily.

Pepto Tablets

Help settle your stomach. The Pepto-Bismol caplets are much more convenient to carry in your bag than the liquid.

Small Pack of Tissues

These are helpful for when you look at your credit card bill.

Stuff You Probably Don’t Need

Here is a list of things that a lot of people bring to Europe but end up never using.

Sleeping Bag: Hostels will provide bedding, and sleeping bags take up way too much space. So unless you are camping or sleeping on someone’s floor, you don’t need a sleeping bag.

Wire Mesh Backpack Theft Protection (Pacsafe): 

The Pacsafe Anti-Theft Bag Protector may seem like a good idea for protecting your backpack but you really don’t need it — especially since most hostels provide safe places to store your bags. These might be better suited for “ sketchier” parts of the world or if you are traveling with lots of expensive electronics. But for most travelers, they just add a lot of weight to your pack. I talked to a few people who had them and everyone said that they stopped using them after a few days.

Water Filter: The water is fine in Europe. You can always buy big bottles of water at the grocery store for cheap.

Valuables: Don’t bring anything that you really don’t want to lose. Leave the fancy jewelry at home. Tech stuff is trickier because it is expensive but sometimes essential for travel. Use your best judgment.

Do a Test Run Before You Go

Load up your bag and see how heavy it is. Walk around with it for 20 minutes. You’ll be surprised how heavy all your stuff can be. You might consider repacking if your backpack weighs too much. Again, I would try to keep your total bag weight around 20lbs.  Check out my guide for how to pack your bag or backpack for traveling in Europe.

Travel Insurance

We recommend picking up some travel insurance — which will help cover your travel gear, flights, accommodation, rail passes, and medical emergencies. World Nomads is our top choice [learn more about Travel Insurance].

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  • cornflakes

    this was very helpful, thank you!!

    • savvybackpacker

      You’re welcome!

  • Camille

    You are awesome….. I lived and studied in Paris for about 8 months in 1990 and in 1991, but, have not been back in over 20 years! Will take my 15 year old daughter on a 3 week Europe jaunt this summer and this cite has been a huge help in our packing planning. Thanks! -Camille (from Texas but living in El Salvador)

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks for the kind words! Best of luck with your upcoming adventures!

  • Dani

    This helped a lot…I’m a very heavy packer and my husband I are looking to travel a lot more so knowing how to pack is really helpful…you’d think it’d be common sense but it’s actually quite difficult! Thanks!

  • Zdenka

    I have a tendency to trust people a little too much and totally agree that the Pacsafe wire mesh is a little over the top – but everyone’s telling me I’m crazy for dismissing the idea! What would you guys consider the “sketchier” parts of Europe?

    • mediabrainwash

      I thought the same until all of my money and credit cards were stolen in Greece right out of my zipped jacket pocket by a group of demanding kids. And trust me those sorts of groups are in all european cities. Not just sketchy parts. If I had not friends to lend me money and let me wire it later, I would be so screwed.

  • Cindy

    This has been my go-to for planning my trip to Europe in the coming weeks. Thank you!

  • Dani

    I am really glad that I found your site! I have found it very helpful, and I am really excited about the packing cubes. Can you please tell me what size cubes you use? Also, do you put your jeans in them? One last one…do you use both packing cubes and envelopes or just one. Last time I backpacked I did not have these, and I hated having to empty my pack to get something from the bottom.

  • Jennifer

    This is an amazing extensive list! Bravo on all of your hard work and time dedicated to providing this information for us; it will definitely prove to be useful. Thank you.

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks for the kind words. Please let me know if you think that I forgotten anything!

  • Lindsey

    This is a great list, but do you have any tips specifically for packing for a Christmas/NYE Europe trip? Clothing & shoe advice for extreme winter months? Thank you so much.

  • Heather

    What happened to the list? It has disappeared….

    • savvybackpacker

      It is still there for me… maybe try reloading it?

  • Jane

    I’m so happy I found your site!! Thank you!
    You’ve included must haves that even in my sleepless nights I haven’t thought about yet. 🙂

  • Chrstina

    Thanks so much! Going on my first backpacking trip in a few weeks. Your site was incredibly helpful with the planning process! 🙂

  • Lotte

    Capri Pants — Normally, European women don’t wear shorts (but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule as I’ve seen ladies wear shorts when it gets really hot) but capri pants are super popular.

    a. European women wear shorts, yes we do.
    B. Capri pants are the equivalent of “mom jeans” here. Trust me… don’t go there.

  • Lizzy

    Awesome list! It was so helpful when I was planning!

  • Fashionisnot passion

    Well, this seems to be geared toward more fashion obsessed, ultra feminine girls. seriously you basically need the same as a guy with the exception of bras and feminine products. The point of travel is new experiences and to get out of your comfort zone. You can buy all of that stuff there and this list is considered over packing. Most hostels and hotels have hairdryers so no need for that. Europe is civilized, it’s not like you are going to a chaotic country such as Somalia.

    • I’m inclined to agree… I pack LIGHT with camera gear and a sleeping-bag taking up 2/3’s of my pack space!

    • To each her own

      I totally get your point but at the same time you are also going into a new culture and trying to fit in and not necessarily look like a tourist. Sometimes its smart to dress like the locals.

  • Nadia

    I’ve been looking through your site ever since I started planning everywhere I want to visit in the world. I’m glad there is a women’s packing list (which I didn’t see until now). I am much simpler and don’t need a number of the things listed here, but it is nice to know. When my trip does happen in some far off future when I can afford it I do have to bring a sleeping bag though. I plan to be camping in places a lot (like Iceland or through Patagonia). It will be extra weight but I hope my already small list works. In all, thanksn for this entire site as it is helping me in planning.

  • Brit

    I’m traveling to Europe this summer with two friends. Is an airporter bag (that covers your backpack) necessary? My friends both got one to protect their bag flying, and we plan on couch surfing as well, they think it’ll be added protection for anyone who may want to rummage through our stuff. What do you think?

    • savvybackpacker

      It’s nice to have for protection if you check your bag while flying. I wouldn’t worry about people going through your stuff but it might be nice just for peace of mind.

    • Edelbo

      I would never check my hiking pack (Osprey Ariel 85L) on a plane without a transporter (airporter) bag. I have seen too many packs/bags with straps get trashed because of the conveyer belts and other things they get caught on….. I have also used mine for other things while traveling, weekly trip to wash clothes and going to the grocery store. The bag does take up a little room, weight isn’t much. Knowing that my pack is zipped safe inside it makes it worth losing the little bit room. — I also found the REI transporter bag is just a good as the Osprey (hubby has one and I have the other) and it’s 1/2 the price!

  • Ingeborg

    As a European, I will say you mist one thing. High heels, it is not practical, but you don’t for dinner or drinks in sneakers or others comfortable shoes. And leave the shorts, expect if they are denim. Shorts are for moms and Americans

  • Mia

    I live in Norway and SHORTS is used alot in Europe!
    How can you guys say shorts is only for home and mums? but I have to say it is fashion to wear shorts, you only wear the relly short kind, and its mostly young people that wears it!
    Aslong it is fashion we do wear it!

    • Michelle Collett

      Completely agree! In fact, mums (or mom if you’re American) are the least likely to wear shorts (I’m a mum and my shorts days are over). Its mostly younger women or those with enviably slim legs who are older. If you like wearing shorts, wear them.

  • Tori Ray

    I was wondering if a curling iron is likely to burn out without dual voltage? That’s all I use and I have short hair so I either have to look like a rag doll or bring a curling iron haha

    • savvybackpacker

      Tori, a curling iron WILL burn out if used in Europe. You can always buy one over there.

      • Tori Ray

        Oh good idea! Haha thanks

      • Ssarah

        This list is super helpful, thank you! If I bring a dual voltage flat iron with converter and adapter will I be okay? Just so I know if I should just skip it all together.

  • Leah

    I live in London, and I would not recommend wearing shorts around in the city. People generally only wear shorts if they are going to the gym/training or if it is in the middle of summer and they are just hanging around in the suburbs, like going to a park or the supermarket. Otherwise the only people who wear shorts in the city are tourists or people under 18. I’ve lived in London for a year and think I have only worn shorts out of the house once or twice (and I am from Australia so am used to wearing shorts ALL THE TIME haha). I don’t remember seeing grown women wear them in many other european cities either. The beach is another matter though.

    I totally agree re: not bringing high heels. Even living in London I don’t wear them a lot. I brought about 6 pairs of high heels with me when we moved here and I’ve hardly worn any of them. Most of them are open-toed and for 6 months of the year it’s too cold or too wet to wear open-toed shoes. The rest of the time, well it’s too uncomfortable wearing high heels when you need to do lots of walking between bus stops and tube stations etc! You can wear perfectly nice, dressy flats (and if you think you are likely to go out to restaurants or night clubs I would suggest something like a nice pair of ballet flats or sandals if you are going in the middle of summer). They also don’t take up much space in your luggage.

    Also: Money belts are completely unnecessary! They are uncomfortable and awkward and there are times when you actually do need to access your passport so having to dig into a money belt under your clothes for that is embarrassing and awkward, and nothing screams ‘tourist’ more than a money belt. Do you wear one when you travel in your home country? No. Europe is no more dangerous than the US or Australia. The only time we lost money in Europe was through a scam which happened right in front of our eyes. Sure people get pick-pocketed but as long as you keep your valuables in a zipped-up bag and not in your trouser pockets this is unlikely to happen to you.

    • Michelle Collett

      Agree on money belt. My ex (note the word ex hehe) wore a tacky grubby beige coloured money belt OVER his clothes when we visited Turkey. It was soooo embarrassing. I wear a cross the body bag big enough for the necessities that zips up. I have the closed zip facing in to my body if on side or it in front if on top so I can control access. Never been pickpocketed but seen it happen to people with bags that are open or wallets in back pockets.

  • Ashleigh H.

    This is a wonderful list, thank you very much! I was just wondering, what is the rule on packing feminine sanitary products such as pads and tampons? I know I’m bound to have an unwelcome visit from my monthly friend during my 3 months in Europe…

    • savvybackpacker

      You should be able to find everything you need while over there. If you have some very specific you want then maybe bring it along but I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    • Liz

      Generally, the feminine products there don’t have applicators, just the actual thing. I was in Germany, and I searched everywhere for some with applicators, and my friend from Germany thought I was nuts because she never used them with applicators.

      • Michelle Collett

        Uk we have tampons with or without applicators plus a range of pads for differing needs

  • Annette Costas Bissinger

    Good list. I lived in England for 3 years and traveled a lot during our time there. I think most tourists over pack and seen so afraid of forgetting something. As another person posted, you are not going to a third world, if you forget something, go to Asda, Tesco or Boots. It’s like Target, Wal-Mart and Walgreen and buy what you need. Wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes on the plane. Buy a cheap flat iron while there and then leave it behind. I got one for 15€ which was cheaper than getting dual voltage ones with an adapter. We never had anyone rob us. We traveled with small carry on suitcases that could become backpacks and had wheels. We had 3 kids ages 6 to 9 & they all became seasoned travelers. I dealt with 1 kid getting lice in Prague and another came down with the stomach flu in Spain, I just popped into the pharmacy and got what we needed no hassle. Though explaining lice by pantomime was quite the experience. Leave room in your bag to buy clothes at Mango, H&M and Zara and for goodness sakes, no running style shoes, baseball caps and camisole tops.

  • Beth

    I studied for a semester in France, and if you’re going there, I WOULD NOT recommend shorts, unless you’re at the beach (though I think shorts with tights are okay). They’re seen as a bit promiscuous. Also, French women do wear makeup, but they prefer the natural look. Leave the blue eyeshadow alone, and go for the neutrals. In general, for clothing colors, just wear neutrals (black, white, gray, navy, brown). They’re easier to mix/match, and they don’t scream “tourist.” You’re much more of a target if you’re wearing 2+ colors at once.

    The important part of the purse is that it zips all the way closed. I bought a tote style purse when I was in France (because that’s what my friends carried), and I just kept the closed zipper under my armpit.

    • Michelle Collett

      I’d say only if you wear the super tight super tiny shorts – normal style that go below the crotch / panty line won’t raise eyebrows or other anatomy 😉

  • Jess

    If you’re traveling to Rome and hoping to go to the Vatican. YOU CANNOT WEAR SHORTS. There is a dress code so do your research.

    • Michelle Collett

      Completely true. I’d say any Catholic, or religious sanctity or attraction would require you to dress accordingly, ie, covered up. However, general tourism and walking around is fine. Obviously teeny tiny denim or other material shorts will raise eyebrows, but normal decent length ones will be fine aside from religious attractions

  • Danielle Forrest

    Never, never, never carry a swiss army knife while traveling through Europe. I did this when I traveled through Europe. Keep in mind that while you might be able to take the knife with you because you can check baggage on the plane, if you take a train, which you most likely will in Europe, especially when backpacking, the train does not allow you to check baggage and their restrictions are just the same as planes.

    In 2007, I spent a half hour at security because of a knife in my bag. We very well could have missed the train. Twice on business trips, my dad has had to throw away swiss army knives because he wasn’t expecting to have to go through security again and had it on him.

    • Willie

      I just came back from Europe a week ago from a two and a half month trip. Carried my leatherman on trains, buses, and checked baggage on flights through six countries. No problem at all.

    • Michelle Collett

      You’ll find that most tourist attractions will check your bag – I expect most would, they do in london, its classed as a weapon and very least will be confiscated or worse, refused entry of security will remove you or call police. Its high alert for weapons. I’d not suggest a swiss army knife or similar unless you plan on camping. Its not needed in a hostel or bnb environment where bottle openers, knives and corkscrews will be available

  • marissa

    This is awesome! There are pictures of shirts and shorts.. what stores are these tops/bottoms from?

  • Shanlan Nerissa Wyngaard

    This list is very helpful when it comes to clothing, toiletries and the first aid kit, but most of the electronics and accessories (flashlight, notebook, laptop, ipad, digital camera etc.) you can get on your phone.
    I use a Lumia 625 and the majority of those things are on the phone, a flashlight app, alarm, One Note to make notes, the camera quality is excellent so you don’t need to take a digital camera and there’s a lot of space and you can automatically upload to OneDrive so you won’t run out of space and you back up your pictures.
    The phone comes with build in Microsoft Office so if you need to create or read any important documents or even save important documents on your phone, that is possible and you can upload your copies of passport and other important documents onto OneDrive. I think taking your phone with you can save a lot of space in your backpack as you can keep your phone in your pocket and it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

    • Michelle Collett

      Agree – its what I plan on doing plus a hard copy of passport in the rare situation both passport and phone are taken or lost

  • Rachel

    This is super great!! How big was your backpack Susan?

  • Trinbago

    Thank you for your tips! I am planning to be in Morocco and Spain for 10 days and this is my first time backpacking. I am very nervous that I will not take enough, but really want to avoid over packing. You and your wife gave me some wonderful ideas! Thank you. Wish me luck!

  • Pamela

    I love this site! It has been my bible as I plan for a 5 week backpacking trip through Europe! Thanks 🙂

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Best of luck on your trip!

  • Hil

    Is it really possible to pack all of this stuff and keep your pack under 25 lbs? I’m asking because I genuinely want to know if you pack this much or if there are things you cut.

    • savvybackpacker

      If you packed absolutely everyone on the list it would probably add up to over 25lbs. The heaviest items are clothing — which will change depending on when and where you travel. The accessories and such should only add up to a few pounds (assuming you’re not bring a laptop or a large camera).

  • Kathrine

    Thank you for this awesome guide!! I’m a true Scandinavian I’m originally from Denmark and I’ve recently just moved back to Denmark from Norway after three years of high school. I’ve never been the great hiker and never been hiking for more than three days in a row tops but you’ve given me courage. I’m going on a trip in the UK with my Norwegian friends from high school next summer.
    I was wondering if you have any experience what so ever about the UK and cheap options for travelling by public transport in the UK. We are thinking about visiting Ireland, North Ireland, Wales, Scotland and of course England in about four weeks time, do you think it sounds to time limited and unrealistic? And last of all do you recommend any hiking trails in the UK that we should visit?
    Thank you so much for this awesome guide again, and it would be a great help if you would answer any of my questions! 🙂

  • JoJo

    Why is this a backpacking list just for women? This is sexist.

  • JoJo

    Sorry. Typo. I meant, “This is the sexiest.” 😛

  • Sweet list guys! You really thought of everything—we’ll definitely be keeping this handy!

  • Katie

    So my friend from Belfast says there is no way you could get into a club without heels-she was turned away wearing heeled boots. I hope to enjoy nightlife while abroad and was wondering if this is true anywhere else?

    • savvybackpacker

      Was it a super high end club? I’d have a hard time believing this would happen at a majority of clubs.

      • Michelle Collett


    • Michelle Collett

      Of course you can go clubbing in flats! It must be a very sexist bouncer that turns a woman away, in any city, uk or otherwise, from entering a club unless wearing high heels. Its not the 80s anymore 😀

  • Kay

    I couldn’t go anywhere without my Kindle! 🙂

  • Rosemary David

    Your tips are great. Just make sure to pack clothes and stuff just enough of what your need for you not to pay extra charge for an over baggage.

  • Ashleigh

    This blog post has answered ALL my packing questions! Thank you so much 😀

  • Michelle Collett

    Thank you for the wonderfully in depth guide to travelling around Venice plus the great tips for packing light. I’m pretty low maintenance but hadn’t heard of the panties that you could wear twice – novel idea, (I’ll just pack for change every day or a little detergent to wash and dry overnight – I’m squeamish haha). Interesting reading comments from non European neighbours on their understanding of Europe. Loving getting different perspectives. One thing that’s very important in Europe, especially those of higher temperatures during summer is mosquito repellant. A high deet content is needed and it may be best buying from a store in the city you visit as itll be geared toward the mosquito they experience. I recall taking repellant from uk to turkey. Did nothing. I bought from a local store there and no more bites.

  • Laurel Quinto

    This is a great site, my bf and I are planning a 3 month backpacking trip through Europe and I have been at such a loss until he sent me this! I will be going on amazon through your links for sure. I would have brought ripped jean shorts and tennis shoes if not for you.

  • Hannah Cluley

    Thoughts on athletic wear? Is that too touristy? I have heard Nike is not as big of a brand over there, but am hiking the Swiss Alps one day..thinking I need shoes for that!

  • Monica Dollive

    Hi there! Was just wondering – is it okay to just bring a cable lock to use in hostel lockers, or are those easier to break through than a padlock? Thanks!

  • DaZel

    It would be awesome if you guys provided a checklist!

  • Sophia DelRose Hilleary Elniff

    Great packing list! I’ve used it several times as a starting point for traveling around Europe as well as the States. Thank you guys for the time you put into this!

  • Ausin Elizabeth R

    I know the list is old, but it’s usefulness has not faded! I’m about to be hoping around Europe this winter and this helped add a few things I hadn’t thought of. Thanks!

    • savvybackpacker

      We update it often!

  • the main rule for me is to wear comfortable and warm!

  • nisha jain

    Absolutely fantastic packing list shared. Thanks for sharing.

  • Joie Mojica

    Don’t forget to put a travel toilery kit! Got mine at Roadeavour! Check it out!

  • Jenny

    I know you mentioned to keep packing under 20lbs but what size backpack are you using to pack all this stuff? We are heading to Italy for 3 weeks and I’m trying to decide what size to take and if I use this list it seems like it might still need to be pretty big.

  • otlaat travel

    good list … great job ….. go ahead …thank you so much

  • Lovely collection!!! I am glad that you mentioned underwear, socks, and bras too. You have provided amazing ideas about packing and I’ll definitely keep these things in my mind. I am obsessed with that comfortable bras and underwears.

    • admin

      glad we could help!

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